Scripture Focus: Psalm 63
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
Reflection: The Blooming Desert
By John Tillman
Cartoons I watched on lazy Saturdays had a familiar visual gag to depict hunger. Two companions would be stranded without food on a deserted island. Maddened by hunger, one would watch the other slowly turn into a delicious-looking ham or a turkey leg. Meanwhile, the other would watch their companion turn into a bucket of fried chicken. Soon they would chase each other around the island, but they were chasing an illusion.
David’s desert Psalm mentions things one might fantasize about in the desert or on a deserted island. He speaks of the richest of foods and of his thirst being quenched. David’s spiritual analogy may have been inspired by physical reality.
Spiritually, we live in a desert where there is no water. We walk in a land where no food grows.
Everything our culture says to drink causes thirst rather than quenches it. Everything our culture says to consume poisons health rather than promotes it. Our world is a spiritual food desert where the only food available is not true food at all. The impulses and instincts they call life-giving make us starved and shriveled devils.
“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials “for the sake of humanity,” and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.” — CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
Satisfying instinct leaves us unsatisfied. Filling physical desire leaves us unfulfilled. Like the cartoon companions, we chase seemingly satisfying illusions. Not only are they not real, but if we ever catch them, we’d reap only sorrow and guilt.
David found life that really matters is not fed by natural things. God is better than food, better than drink, better than sleep. He is the bread and water of life. He is our peace and our rest.
Jesus is a fountain springing up in the desert that enlivens the driest, most hopeless ground. When we drink deeply of living water, we can make the desert bloom.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
The Lord is my shepherd, and nothing is wanting to me. In green pastures, He has settled me.
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about Quotations from the Desert
Christ and the Israelites weren’t hungry in the desert for no reason. Nor are we.
Read more about Ready to Exit the Desert
May we leave sin and doubt in the desert, crossing the Jordan toward God’s calling to be his city on a hill.